Drifting is a driving technique in which a driver breaks the rear wheels out of a gripping position and counter-steers the vehicle around a course or track. Generally the line that is designated by a panel of judges is a line that provides the highest speed and angle the car is capable of handling.
The Formula DRIFT Championship consists of a scheduled number of two-day meets or Championship "Rounds" in which drivers compete in a single elimination bracket of "head-to-head" match-ups. Drivers first qualify individually to ascertain where they will be positioned into a bracket that then determines the "head-to-head" match-ups.
Head-to-head runs are judged and based on a number of pre-determined criteria with the winner moving into the next level of the bracket. Points and standings are awarded based on finishing rank and cumulative season points will determine the championship order.
The criteria for judging are as follows:
- I. LINE
- The drift line is defined as the ideal path a vehicle must take on course and is marked by inner clipping points and outer clipping zones. The exact line of each track will be dictated by the judges at each track
- II. ANGLE
- The maximum drift angle at which a driver can maintain and control his/her vehicle throughout the marked course.
- III. STYLE
- Style is probably the most subjective part of the drivers' runs. Style is just what it sounds like: The drivers' overall ability to take the specific judging criteria and display it is the most personal and individual way. That is the essence of style. Aggressive flicks, closeness to walls, extreme angle, degree of difficulty, fluidity and extreme proximity to the lead vehicle (in case of head-to-head competitions) would be examples of how personal driving style can be showcased.
Judges may also use logged drivers speed as a reference or assistance in judging, but speed of drivers is typically used for entertainment purposes, such as those purposes served through TV, live and live stream.
To maintain safety in the competition, during tandem competition runs only, teams may call for a Competition Timeout to make any necessary repairs. Competition Timeouts are not allowed for Practice or Qualifying. Competition Timeouts are not to be used for strategic purposes. Only the designated team representative will be allowed to request the Competition Timeout, and it must be made through a Formula DRIFT official. Only the Competition Manager may grant a Competition Timeout. Team will not be granted a Competition Timeout if it is believed to be unwarranted. Competition Timeouts are allowed for a maximum of five (5) minutes and are to be administered by the Competition Manager.
Competitors who fail to make the necessary repairs the allotted time limits will be disqualified from the competition and forfeit to the opposing driver.
Teams may only use one (1) Competition Timeout throughout the competition. Additional and concurrent Competition Timeout requests are not allowed unless cited in other sections of these rules.
Competition Timeout repairs must be completed either trackside or in the pre-grid or hot grid. Vehicles needing to go to the pit for a Competition Timeout are not permitted.
Competitor vehicles cannot be serviced by their crew between the first and second runs of a tandem round. This includes tire changes, tire pressure adjustments, suspension adjustments, fueling, cool-down, etc.
The format for qualifying is a traditional format. Drivers will complete two (2) non-consecutive runs on the track in reverse order of current rank in the Championship. Drivers will receive a score after each run and the top 32 drivers will move on to Head-to-Head competition. In the event of a tie in qualifying, the tie-breaker will first be the Style points allocated followed by rank followed by logged speed.
In the event of rain or weather that does not cause cancellation of qualifying or head-to-head, the judges have the right to make adjustments to the criteria of judging and to subsequently disseminate this information to the spotters and drivers.
In the event that qualifying cannot be completed, such as a rain-out or other circumstances, qualifying order will be established by rank or by previous season points.
- I. QUALIFYING SCORING
- In qualifying, each judge will be assigned to a criterion: Line, Angle, or Style.
Line judge can award up to 25 points + 10 points for Style
Angle judge can award up to 25 points + 10 points for Style
Style judge can award up to 30 points
Total maximum points is 100
In the event of a tie, the driver with the higher Style score will take the position.
- II. ITEMS THAT CONSTITUTE AN AUTOMATIC ZERO
- Spinning out
- Clear and punctuated straightening or losing drift (Losing drift and reinitiating quickly is a major deduction, but not a zero. Judges will determine if an action results in a zero)
- Two tires off course
- Hood, hatch and/or doors open during a run
- Resulting contact causes an abrupt change in the vehicles drift and/or causes a spin
- III. REPLAYS
- The use of replays in Qualifying can be requested by a judge, but for the run of show, the typical flow will be the driver's run and no replay.
- IV. CLIPPING ZONES AND COURSE MARKERS
- Cones or other similar marking will designate all clipping points and zones. Anytime an inner clipping point is hit, the vehicle will be considered to be off course, and points will either be deducted. Hitting an outer clipping zone with anything other than the driver's rear bumper will be counted as off course and will be scored a 0 if more than two tires clearly go off course. (ie. Hitting the cone with the rear tire, door, etc.) Course markers that are laid out to designate the outer lines of the course are not to be hit by vehicles at any time in competition. Hitting the markers is considered going off course and a deduction or a 0 may be awarded. Judges will specify in the drivers meeting how they will treat each specific track.
Slight contact with a wall or cone in the outer clipping zone will not result in a point deduction if the hit does not disturb or affect the flow of the drivers run. This means no major corrections were needed after the hit and the driver was still able to maintain proper line and angle. If the hit occurs at any other point on track other than the marked outer clipping zones points may be deducted. If a spin or major under steer results from contact with an outer clipping zone an automatic score of 0 will be given.
32 drivers will compete in single elimination head-to-head battles and win his/her way through a standard 32-Driver bracket. Tandem rounds are based on two (2) runs, in head-to-head format, with competitors paired up based on qualifying position. The higher qualifier will lead the first run and the second led by the lower qualifier.
Starting in 2014, there will no longer be a 3rd place consolation round. 3rd place will now be decided based on the highest qualifier of the two losing competitors in the Final Four.
- I. LEAD CAR
- The lead car is to drift the course using the line, angle and style as defined by the judges for qualifying. Typically, the lead car should driver 90 percent of his/her qualifying run(s) and focus specifically on hitting all clipping point and zones with the maximum line, angle and style as possible.
- II. CHASE CAR
- In general, the chase car needs to treat the lead car as a moving clipping point and showcase more angle and style while in chase. With regards to proximity, a chase driver may get as close to the lead car as possible as long as the chase car's front wheels DO NOT reach in front of the lead car's front wheels. In essence, if done properly, a chase driver can be door-to-door with the lead car without being in violation of being on a lower line. Drivers that do surpass the lead drivers front wheels will receive a deduction for their chase run. For a chase car to show true dominance to the lead car, the driver must follow the line the lead driver chooses, maintain consistent and larger angle than the lead car and use the vehicles power to maintain consistent and close proximity to the lead car.
- III. PASSING
- Passing is allowed in Formula DRIFT. Passing is allowed anywhere on course as long as the lead car is clearly off the line the judges have specified. Any passing that occurs outside the scope of the aforementioned criteria will be deemed illegal and constitute an equivalence to a zero (0) run. A chase driver will be considered the lead driver once a legal pass has been completed and clearly shows the original chase driver has assumed control as the lead driver.
- IV. ITEMS THAT CONSTITUTE AN AUTOMATIC ZERO
- The following constitute a ZERO in tandem:
- Spinning Out
- Clear and punctuated straightening or losing drift (Losing drift and reinitiating quickly is a major deduction, but not a zero. Judges will determine whether or not this is a zero)
- Two tires or more clearly off course
- Contact to the other driver that is considered, "avoidable".
- A chase driver not actively chasing the lead driver after the opponent had, "zero'd" out on the prior run
Three Judges will observe both runs during a head-to-head battle. There will be no declaration of scores between the two runs. At the conclusion of the head to head battle each judge will individually declare a winner. Judges are allowed to converse but are not permitted to show their written winner to any other judge. Judge separation devices may be used. Judges will select from three options:
- Driver "A" wins
- Driver "B" wins
- "One More Time"
The majority will rule and a winner will be decided. In the event there is no clear majority, a "One More Time" will be granted, and the competitors will begin another 2-run head-to-head battle. Multiple "One-More-Times" may be necessary to determine a winner.
All judging is done from the on top of the judging stand. If a clipping point is not visible from the judging stand, a flag system or a closed-circuit TV may be used to communicate whether a driver properly scores the clipping point.
- I. REPLAYS
- Use of multiple replays in tandem competition is prohibited until Great 8 onward. The typical run of show will be a replay after each run of tandem, but nothing more until the Great 8 has started. Once the great 8 has started, judges may request multiple replays. The Competition Manager may request that time be allocated for a replay in any round if a technical issue has occurred that could affect a judging call.
- II. COLLISIONS
- Vehicle contact in drifting is something that Formula DRIFT recognizes as part of the sport, however contact of vehicles while in head-to-head battle requires specific rulings and guidelines as follows:
- A. LEAD CAR
- The lead car is required at all times to run the line given by the judges and also maintain adequate speed throughout the course. If the lead car measures untypical speed, this may result in a score against that driver. Typical speed for a lead car is defined as speeds of equivalent measurement from qualifying speeds. Some slight variance (+5, -5) is in most cases acceptable, however Formula DRIFT recognizes that speed of the lead and chase driver can change as track conditions change and as competition gets into the latter rounds.
If the lead car loses drift, goes off line or reduces speed too drastically in comparison to that particular driver's qualifying speeds and the chase car hits the lead car, the lead car will in most cases be deemed at fault for the contact. It is each individual judge's job to ascertain fault. There may be circumstances where the lead car is not at fault for the contact, but this will be left to each individual judge to ascertain.
- B. CHASE CAR
- The chase car is required at all times to follow and chase the lead car. The driver of the chase car is encouraged to know the approximate speed of the lead car through the entire course. If the chase car makes contact, in most cases that driver will be deemed at fault for the contact unless otherwise noted. Contact known as "rubbing" is acceptable, however the chase car cannot affect the lead car where loss of drift or loss of line occurs.
- C. DAMAGE DUE TO CONTACT
- Once contact is made and damage occurs to either vehicle, the Judges using majority rule will ascertain fault. If damage due to contact occurs, both drivers have a right to have their spotter enact a "COMPETITION TIME OUT." A Competition Timeout is five (5) minutes in duration. It is expected that in most cases damaged vehicles can be repaired in this time frame.
In some cases, damage sustained to the vehicles may require more time to repair. At this point ONLY the vehicle not at fault may ask for additional time. (NOTE: This does not prevent teams' ability to call a Competition Timeout for other purposes). In the spirit of time and the show, the Competition Manager also reserves the right to continue the competition with the outstanding head-to-head matches of that particular round. The Competition Manager will re-assess the vehicle between subsequent head-to-head match up's or even at the end of the round.
In most cases Formula DRIFT will encourage teams and drivers to finish the head-to-head match-up, but there will be cases where vehicles may not be able to be repaired or contact happened on the last run of a head-to-head in which case the judges can make a call on the winner of the match.
If a team cannot repair their vehicle and the team was also not at fault during the incident, a Formula DRIFT official will verify that indeed the car is not repairable in time for the next round and declare the driver the winner of the match. The driver may move onto the next round or if the damage is too extreme, may exit from the competition.
If both the lead vehicle and the chase vehicle wreck on the first run of a matchup and are unable to continue due to excessive damage, and no driver is deemed at fault (i.e. both driver's wreck independently of each other), the winner is determined based on the higher of the two qualifying scores. If both the lead vehicle and the chase vehicle wreck on the second run of a matchup and are unable to continue due to excessive damage, and no driver is deemed at fault (i.e. both driver's wreck independently of each other), the winner is determined based on the scoring of the first run of the matchup.
- Andy Yen
- Andy is a grassroots drifter at heart, and well respected among the drivers as keeping the sport true to its origins. Both American and Japanese hot shots alike know Andy as the "King of the Hill" when it comes to spirited driving on local mountain roads in his native Southern California. In competition, Andy was known to commit to his drift early in the run and protect his line at all costs. In the judges' box, Andy scrutinizes competitors under a microscope; even the smallest mistakes can't escape his keen eye. Andy has been judging for Formula DRIFT since 2006.
- Ryan Lanteigne
- Ryan got involved with drifting in 2004 when the Drift Mania Canadian Championship (DMCC) started in Montreal as a simple drift demo at a local track. He worked for DMCC behind the scenes for three years, quietly teaching himself how to drift behind the wheel of his R32 Skyline. He got his break in 2007 when he was offered the chance to give "thrill rides" to fans and sponsors during intermissions at DMCC events for Yokohama Tire, which got him noticed and landed him on the Canadian BFGoodrich Drift Team for 2008, its inaugural year, behind the wheel of a Pontiac GTO. His team worked hard to develop the GTO and make it competitive with some decent results on the podium. Later on he was offered the chance to become a DMCC judge under the watchful eye of Tony Angelo and the stern discipline of Andy Yen where Ryan has shown his true talent for spotting great speed, style and angle. Ryan works in the automotive industry as a Precision Driver for ride & drive events across North America.
- Brian Eggert
- Brian Eggert is an experienced drifting judge having worked with the USDrift Series and several other regional events. Eggert has also worked alongside Drift Association helping to co-create the Pro-Am Series for Formula DRIFT. Since 2003, Eggert has helped create regional chapters across the country in an effort to make safe and legal drifting accessible for enthusiasts of all skill levels. Through USDrift and NASA, Eggert has helped promote the sport of drifting and sanctions 8 organizations hosting events in over 20 states.